Around the world with Paddington Bear
The last 5 years of a pre-school teaching job taught me a lot. I understood how important good organisation skills are as well as routine; even though us adults don’t really like routine, the little ones find it hugely important – a constant consistent daily programme gives the children a sense of security.
At the nursery, I worked as a nursery teacher but I also held Drama class, a bit like a “mini theatre club”.
Every Wednesday I would drag my „magical” pre-war suitcase filled with props needed for the games I prepared ahead of the class.
When there was time for our class, the little faces would beam with smiles.
Thanks to the routine of the class, the little ones knew straight away what they were supposed to do and quickly sat themselves on the colourful mats placed for them on the floor.
It is common knowledge that children learn the quickest through play, so I always tried to incorporate some learning into games prepared for them while still being fun.
The children’s smiles and happiness and the knowledge that they learned something during those 20 minutes were my best rewards.
When I decided to work for myself and care for the children in my own home, the experience from my nursery job helped me immensely to perfectly organise my work day.
Introduction of constant elements like reading a book together or games in a circle are key to success.
And so the travelling Paddington Bear came to existence.
Paddington Bear lives in a small suitcase in which he travels around the world. Once a week, though, he comes back to tell the children about his adventures and the country he has just visited.
In the suitcase, next to Paddington Bear, there should always be a little souvenir for the children from the country in question, a sticker, colouring book or even a snack (if the parents approve and there are no allergies).
As well as props which will help you to discuss facts about a given country, e.g.: France (mini Eiffel tower, snail shell, mini French flag, etc. the possibilities are endless). I went a step further and, I managed to get little passports and stamps which belong to the children (a good idea, though, is to hand in the passports at the end of the game so they don’t distract the children and they can focus on the Bear).
We need to remember that to sit on the floor and watch the grownup play with the bear is not too interesting, children like to actively take part in the game so it is crucial to plan the game so that the children can actually participate in it. Let’s say that the bear went sightseeing in a car. Unfortunately, the car broke down and you need to fix it.
Give the car and some plastic tools to one of the children (you will definitely have toys like that at home) and ask them to help fix the car. If there are more children, the next one can help the bear to build a bridge to cross the river – you can use sticks and playdough. There are loads of ways to engage the children but it is essential to plan all that ahead and thoroughly prepare for the class.
When you have planned what you want to do with the children, here’s an idea how the game could be conducted step by step:
The children sit in a cirle on the floor, the teacher/carer brings out the suitcase and asks the question: „Guess who came to visit us today?”
If the children already know this game, they will definitely start shouting „It’s the Paddington Bear!” 😉
Open the suitcase, take out the bear and say hello to the children. You can even high-five the children – this form of interaction will encourage them even more to take part in the game. You can change your voice to impersonate the bear (it will be even more fun). Make a short introduction, where the bear went and what he saw. Help your story with the props. Allow the children to look at and touch the props. Then invite the children to play by asking them to help complete a task or solve a problem.
Finally, thank the children for playing together and give them souvenirs from the country you discussed. If you’ve decided to make/buy the little passports, write the country’s name and let the children stamp the page.
This game is for children aged 2.5-5 years old.
Depending on the child’s age and skills you can shorten the game to 5-10 minutes for the younger children or extend it even to 20 minutes for older ones.
I hope you liked the idea and I managed to inspire someone.
Polish mother Joanna